The Office of Education Standards has just released its Annual Report 2019, entitled ‘Every School A Good School’, however the findings from the report show that most of Cayman’s schools, especially the government schools, fall below expected performance levels.
The Office of Education Standards (OES) is the appointed body responsible for the evaluation of all educational institutions in the Cayman Islands, which is required under the Education Law (2016). The report contains a summary of the findings of the first 25 school inspections undertaken over the past academic year.
In 2018 the full inspection of schools and early years centres began with seven performance standards under review including students’ achievement in English, mathematics and science; students’ personal and social development; teaching, learning and assessment; the curriculum; health, safety, support and guidance; leadership and management; and overall performance.
Each school was then given a rating: ‘excellent’ meant an exceptionally high quality of performance or practice; ‘good’ was the expected level for every school in the Cayman Islands, both public and private; ‘satisfactory’ was the minimum level of quality required for the Cayman Islands and ‘weak’ meant the quality was not yet at the level acceptable for schools in the Cayman Islands.
Crucially, the report noted that the expected level of performance for every school in the Cayman Islands was good.
Nine government schools were evaluated under this round of inspections: Clifton Hunter High School, Creek & Spot Bay Primary School, John Gray High School, Layman Scott High School, The Lighthouse School, Little Cayman Education Services, Prospect Primary School, Savannah Primary School and West End Primary School. Clifton Hunter High School and Savannah Primary School received a ‘weak’ rating, The Lighthouse School received the best rating of ‘good’ and the remainder were all ‘satisfactory.’
Private schools faired just slightly better, with two out of the eight inspected receiving ‘weak’ scores: Triple C and Wesleyan Christian Academy, two receiving ‘satisfactory’ reports: First Baptist Christian School and Grace Christian Academy and the remainder receiving the expected ‘good’ report: Cayman Prep and High School, Island Montessori, Montessori by the Sea and Starfish Village.
The eight Early Years centres that came under scrutiny had widely varying levels of success. Bright Start, Miss Nadine’s and Tiffany’s Pre-School all received ‘weak’ reports, Little Trotters received the only ‘excellent’ report out of any of the schools reviewed and Discovery Kids, Just for Kids and Tiny Tots Academy all received just ‘satisfactory’ reviews.
Between September 2017 and June 2019, the OES also completed 19 follow-through inspections, evaluating the progress made by the school in addressing previous inspection recommendations.
This also made for dire reading, with seven follow-through inspections reporting ‘weak’ reviews for the following schools: George Town Primary School (two follow-through inspections); Cayman Brac Daycare; Clifton Hunter High School, Tiffany’s Pre-school and Sir John A Cumber Primary School (two follow-through inspections). Just two were reported as ‘good’ – Red Bay and West End Primary Schools and the remainder were ‘satisfactory’ – Creek and Spot Bay, Edna M Moyle, Prospect, Savannah, Bodden Town, George Town Primary (third follow-through), Cayman Brac Daycare, East End Primary (two follow-throughs), and Bright Start Learning Centre.
The report did offer some hope for improvement.
“A majority of the public schools inspected during 2018-19 were found to offer a satisfactory quality of education overall. This represents some improvement from the last round of inspections conducted in 2014-15 during which the overall performance of most public schools was evaluated as ‘unsatisfactory’. Nevertheless, there is currently no mainstream public school which meets the expected level in terms of overall performance quality,” it stated.
As far as public schools were concerned, parents get what they pay for, as the report stated:
“A review of the private schools and early years centres whose overall performance was judged to be ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, highlighted that all six schools were noted to have fees in the middle to high fee bracket category. Consequently, of the schools inspected to date, there are, at present, no schools performing at the expected level within the low fee bracket.”
A hard copy of the report, outlining the quality of education in the Cayman Islands to support improvement while highlighting areas the need for further development, is being sent to all the schools and early years centres in due course.